World Poetry Day

March 21st is UNESCO World Poetry Day. Unsually, I try and guide a walk in the weekend closest to this day at one of the Marble Arch Geopark sites, since geoparks are also a UNESCO designation. This year is beginning to have lots of projects crammed into a finite diary. The closest I wll get to this is leading a workshop on poetry at the Dowra Courthouse Creative space this Sunday. We will meet from 11am to 2p, 24th March, in the restored courthouse that has become a creative space with workshops that includes a pottery kiln and jewelery making workshop. Dowra is a Geopark Community that straddles the Cavan and Leitrim county boundaries.

There are still a couple spaces available. All you need do is bring a lunchtime snack, a comfortable pen, and a notebook. Be open to experimentation, to writing truly appalling first drafts, and moving on to feeling the joy of the creative sap rising with springtime.

Meanwhile, here is a World Poetry Day bonus poem…on the state of poetry.

Poetry

It sits like the elephant
in the corner of the living room,
treated as irrelevant,
a difficult to quantify
its quantity or quality
as economic unit.

Tell me the weight and rate
of soul? If you feel that one exists
inside darkest nights, within great joy?
Then everyone wants to reach
for a poem.Or to grasp a pen
to pioneer that frontier
of their understanding
of what costs nothing
and contains a world.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image
Photo by Trust "Tru" Katsande on Unsplash



The Chaste Moon

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that the March Full Moon, which arrived at 1:42 am this morning my local time, is known by many names. Indigenous people have called it Storm Moon, but it is also known as the Worm moon and the Chaste Moon. This was also the last of a triiumverate of Supermoons, where the full moon is seen as super close to the earth. Where I live in Ireland each of those nights has been shrouded in cloud cover.

But this,in itself was very beautiful. The Old Dog had a restless night, which meant my sleep has been broken. I gave up all pretense of getting back to sleep before dawn. I also realised that this was the first time in a long while that I was writing the Poetry Daily in darkness, the holy hours before dawn known as the amrit vela. I checked back last year and found that the full moon seems to disrupt my sleep pattern and make it more likely for me to writing in those ambrosial hours. https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/11/21/ambrosial-hours/.

But less historical rumination and down to the daily poem, inspired by the ghostly twilight that fell over the landscape at full moon.

The Chaste Moon

When moonlight lies like a mist
upon a wetland drenched
in ghostly twilight,
there is a restless pulse
beyond the clouded veil.
It casts a milky caul.

This chaste moon delivers
the gift of sight
as it gently beams through
a scrim of bridal tuille,
chiffon and voile that's laced
across the night skyline.

Is that why they call this
the Chaste Moon?
A virgin is called.
An angel is announced.
She's made a mother
by Lady Day.

The full moon is making
Her Magnificat.
The egg is laid.
The seed is sown.
What all could hope
is now set to be born.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Equilux at Storm Moon

A while ago I stumbled upon the different way of describing the vernal equinox. Equinox is equal night. Equilux is equal light. Since then I have tended to think of this March state of the earth as being in equal light as the days lengthen for me in the northern hemisphere. Because astrology as we know it began in the northern hemisphere the beginning of the astrological year is 0 degrees of Aries, which occurs on the 20th or 21st of March each year, with spring’s waxing light.

This year the equilux, or vernal equinox, coincides with the March full moon. Which means that the moon in residing in the sign opposite the sun, Libra, the time of the autumn equinox. Native Americans and agrarian people who did not live their life by a twelve month calendar named each moon. The March moon in variantly knows as the Storm Moon or Chaste Moon; it is also called Worm moon as farmers would rely on earth worms to be doing their bit to prepare the soil for crop planting.

Today’s poetry practice is imformed by the earth. It’s the third supermoon in as many months, as well as the last one of 2019. That means that the moon is appearing very up close and personal, very large and looming. In Ireland, we’ve had a great deal of cloud cover. We have low cloud again today, so I have no high hopes of moon bathing tonight.

Equilux at Storm Moon

The world tree at rest
on its axis,
perfectly poised
between light and dark,
before roots and leaves
topsy-turvy
will follow sun's light.
Howsoever:
tonight it will bask
in full moonlight,
unbalancing
the sun's equilux.

On his deathbed
Goethe is said
to have cried out
with his last breath,
quote:
"More light! More light"

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Tony Detroit on Unsplash

If you have a burning desire to learn more about the astrology of this full moon I recommend checking out a vlog by Pam Gregory of http://www.pamgregory.com . If you prefer reading to digest information, then check out the WordPress blog by Mary Pat Lynch of Rising Moon Astrology. http://www.risingmoonastrology.com/equinox-full-moon-in-libra-opening/. She also has a podcast.

The Sweating Sickness

In the past twenty-four hours I have spent about four upright and bi-pedal. A malaise descended upon me with symptoms that any reader of Victorian novels might be well-acquainted. When I finally rose to partake of my boiled egg, the first real nutrition in said time frame, my husband’s buddy (who had called for him to go help sort out a septic tank issue) told us the latest Brexit news that the Speaker of the House has announced there can be no third vote.

So it’s ten days to Brexit and please G/goddess the backstop is permanent. I am a month away from shepherding a group of 8-12 year olds from Cavan and Fermanagh and I am having to factor in potential border crossing hold ups in my plan. Since nobody knows what the **** is going to happen.

Then another friend sent me a link about the Naylor Review, which many reckon is a recipe for privatisation of Britiain’s NHS. At the very least it is insisting that in order to fund necessary equipment NHS Trusts will have to sell off land to private development. Everyone is a gangster these days it seems. Except Little Nell and Tiny Tim.

Today’s Poetry Daily is not so much a Poetry Prescription as a diagnosis.

The Sweating Sickness

Which will probably carry us off
like our Victorian forebearers
too poor to forlock tug, cap doffed
paying the kindly GP with spare
spuds and a cock. Though now knock-off
smart phones are much more valuable scrap.

Now medicines like insulin
might be sold blackmarket with Brexit.
How else is public health bludgeoned?
Well, Naylor reckons sell off the 'glut'
of public-owned NHS land
by selling to privateers.
Because it feels like war when they jeer
at the sick and the lame and the halt.
TB and measles are the ailments
of poverty. And whose at fault?
Bare-faced liars who pulled PR stunts
saying money sent to Europe
would go to the Department of Health
on the side of a bus...that's stealth...

It's been a two-year long crack-up.
Those days of free public health distant,
or soon to be, ration-booked up
to see your GP or consultant.
Meanwhile, the general public sweat,
consider the legacy of debt
left to millenials,
a life not unlike times long gone by.
Unromantic bonnets and shawls
meant high mortality rates and
busy gravediggers at cemetaries:
a fetish and cult made of mourning.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Black Out or Erasure

Some days writing is more difficult than others. The blank page collects doodles of half-formed ideas. It begins to look like a list. I saw a red squirrel yeterday when I took a walk during a rare dry interval. I googled squirrel as spirit animal.  The suggestion to avoid multi-tasking felt wise. The point about manifesting what is needed felt like a sneer. The exhortation to lighten up and play sent me straight off on another Google chase.

Which led me to a Writer’s Digest list of 86 poetry forms. The write up on Erasure or Blackout poems seemed kind of playful. So I dove into the paper recycling and hauled out some magazines. I only had a blue marker to black out text. I did a very random pick and fished out the March 9th issue of Feast, the cookery section of th weekend Guardian.

This is how it looked at the end my blacking out session.

Kitchen Aide

My  friend insists

The fruit and veg oracle

Warns

The worst…

Think about spuds

Chips to roasties

Green leaves

Lettuce to spinach

An almighty shock

For obvious reasons

Perks up

And… Erasures  from Waste Not…


Quantify

An instrument that measures

Excess

In a sealed container

Bring all the time

And minutes

Murdering People Who Pray

I am heart sick. Yet another shooting in a place of worship. Now each of the Judeo- Christian people of the Book have been picked off while they worshipped in their own way. Less than five months ago I was mourning the massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue. Today, I have written a new poem, but I am also including other poems I have written in the last thirteen months about mass shootings. But its unique this Sunday, to contemplate that there has been a massacre of worshipers now in a Christian church, a Jewish synagogue and two Moslim mosques.

I’m opening with some older poems, just to remind you.

 
Tree of Life

When God was allowed a wife
her name was Asherah.
She was the sacred tree of life –
root, branch, bud, leaf, flower,
the berry that had the seed,
the source of nature’s power.
 
When God was allowed a wife,
(before she was veiled and put into purdah)
no one would have dared or dreamed to take a life,
to even strike a blow against the sacred tree.
For she is the one who holds up the sky.
For she is the one who holds back tsunami sea.
 
When God was allowed a wife
just like prophets, or Krishna, or Buddha,
did we live with less strife?
Did we need to burn a holocaust,
to join human blood with timber?
When will this urge in us be exhausted?
 
When God was allowed a wife –
Praise be her name Asherah!-
She was axis and afterlife
She demanded no blood sacrifice.
She was root, branch, bud, leaf, flower, berry.
She was the Garden of Paradise.
 
When God was allowed a wife –
She had a name, Asherah –
we walked in Beauty. We loved life.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

The classic response to each new fresh hell of a massacre has been ‘our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are mourning.’ It’s become such a cliché it almost sounds like an insult. In spite of my pacifist leanings, if I was one among those families, I would punch any politician in the face who had the gall to say this and then vote down stricter gun legislation.

So last February I was writing this.

 
Thoughts and Prayers

Enough of thoughts
Enough of prayers
Enough of tears
 
Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of being bought
Enough of anger
Enough conspiracy jeers

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of siege and SWAT
Enough of all coming to naught
Enough of the primacy of crackpot
Enough of the always all too sure shot
 
Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of cowering in closets
Enough of bandoliered bigots
Enough of ideology driven budgets
Enough of guts and gore as year-round climate
 
Banish your fear
May Love disarm you

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Here I am again a little over a year later, on a Sunday, the Sabbath for Christians, the tradition I was reared in. And we are having to confront that yet another person reared in this religious tradition has taken guns and ammunition and mowed down people at prayer.

First, it was the congregation of the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina. back in 2015. Certainly synagues and mosques were targetted for arson and attack since then, but this past five months has had the massacres of worshipers, people at prayer, first in a synague and now two mosques.

I want to stop having to write these kinds of poems. But staying silent in the face of evil is not an option. I disavow violent direct action. All I can offer are poems with the hope that hearts and minds will have the kind of metanoia where love, the agape of the New Testiment blossoms, celebrates and protects diversity in our world. That will let people live and worship the God or no God they wish as they please.

Murdering People Who Pray

They kneel.
They bow.
They sit and daven.

Some sing.
Some are silent.
Some are led

to follow a Book.,
to have words
to be read,

as they kneel,
as they bow,
while they sit

listening to
exigesis
on texts
about a deity

who might say:
why do you murder
all My People
while they pray?

Do you seek
to obliterate Deity
in human form
today?

Emmanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina,  USA June 17, 2015
Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA October 27, 2018
Masjid Al-Noor Mosque, Linwood Mosque, Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019
For all those massacred while they prayed

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

I saw a clip on YouTube last night from a favourite comedy, Derry Girls, set in Northern Ireland during the bad old days before the peace accord of the Belfast Treaty of 1998. In the clip there were Catholic and Protestant high school kids in a joint session being asked to list similarities and differences between tribes. (These are Christian sects after all.) The gag was that the board was chock a bloc with differences. The board with similarities was empty.

We need to address that deficit. It’s no laughing matter. People die because of it.

Featured Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

Poetry is…

There is a long tradition of Ars Poetrica contemplationson the art of poetry. I have been cogitating about this in a kind of brew and stew sort of way a lot recently. Partly, it is because I have been asked to write an article about sacred poetry. The other part is that I am preparing several workshops, including one dedicated to poetry writing next Sunday. What is the common denominator beyond form and content? For me, poetry is connection. I went to sleep with this sputtering in my subconscious and the first verse of today’s poem was beginning to be formed as I was waking.

It’s a drowning world here in my part of Ireland, weather-wise, today. I suspect a lot of St. Patrick’s Day parade floats might literally…float! It’s a good day to hunker down with pen, paper and keyboard. As Felicia Olusanyo (aka Felispeaks) said in the Irish Times this week:

Considering this country is, by its seams, held together by poetry? Poetry and music are the cornerstones of Ireland, I wish we took them more seriously.”

Irish Times, Wednesday, 13 March 2018

So, here I am doing my poetry practice, sewing frayed seams. on the national holiday weekend.

Ars Poetica

Poetry is
a venn diagram
between kissing
your spouse goodbye
hard on the mouth;
Michelangelo's
painting the finger
of God on the
Sistine ceiling.

Poetry is
the ovum between
the touch of the brush,
snake's tongue licking
eggshell open;
La Gioconda's
enigmatic smile,
her wily gaze's
invitation
to be awake.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured Photo by Humberto Arellano on Unsplash

It’s slightly ironic that I chose this featured photo as I got lacerated this morning trying to intervene between two feline boys who are not taking being shut up indoors well. The little black she cat is the only one with any respect for me today.